The young boy stood on the busy city corner, clutching his shoebox to his chest as the wind gusted around him. Like every good boy taught by parents and teachers, he diligently looked both ways, watching the traffic as he waited for the light to change.
The boy was out of place on the corner, surrounded by streams of business suits and shopping bags going somewhere. Passersby paused mid-journey, pulling up their collars against the bitter airstream, only to resume their migration when the light changed. The boy simply stood, enduring loose bits of clothing fluttering with each gust. He checked for traffic, the light changed, he waited. He checked for traffic, the light changed, he waited. His only movement was to occasionally change his grip on his shoebox.
Every child has his treasures. To the weary adult these baubles of a child are merely trinkets – a rock from the beach, a plastic bead, a rubber ball. But to their owner, these nothings are pearls of great price. The child had several of these pearls in his shoebox.
He remained standing through seventeen light changes. A few pedestrians wavered when they saw this unattended child on a busy street corner, but no one remained long enough to do anything. The wind pushed them on.
The light changed for the eighteenth time, and a blue SUV with fluttering sports flags approached the intersection. As it was about to pass through, the boy bolted into traffic and clenched his eyes to the oncoming disaster.
Screams and screeching tires filled the air as the vehicle struck the boy, throwing him to the other side of the intersection. His already lifeless body landed and the shoebox he had so carefully guarded flung open, scattering its contents across the road. The driver of the SUV ran to the child, and when he saw the boy’s face he fell to his knees with a wail. His son was dead.
With howls and groans the man fell upon his broken child. He did not notice the now empty shoebox, nor did he notice the scattered trinkets. The rock from their last vacation rolled into the gutter. The toy car from the boy’s last birthday lay smashed against a building. The photo of father and son soaked up water from a puddle. And the letter the man wrote to his wife when he moved out of the house last week fluttered in the wind as it sailed away.